Twin Dragons

Hong Kong/USA 1991

Film still for Twin Dragons

Reviewed by Kim Newman


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Hong Kong, 1965. Newborn twin brothers are separated when a fleeing crook barges through a hospital room, taking one baby as hostage. Although the criminal is captured, the child becomes a foundling. Raised by a good-natured but alcoholic floozy, he grows up to be Boomer, a mechanic and racing driver. He has a knack for martial arts and is often dragged into trouble by his friend Tyson. Meanwhile, John Ma, Boomer's brother, grows up in wealthy surroundings and becomes a concert pianist and conductor. The brothers share a psychic link and tune into each other's sneezes and sensations at odd moments.

John arrives in Hong Kong for a concert and hooks up with Tammy. Her father, eager for an advantageous marriage, has provided her as an assistant, although Tammy has a violent boyfriend. Thanks to Tyson, Boomer has to rescue Barbara, a singer, from a nightclub and, after losing a bet on a car race, is forced to flee from gangsters by boat. When the chase winds up with the crooks' best driver in traction and Tyson in the care of a gangster-run hospital, Boomer is forced to help rescue a gang boss from police custody. John and Boomer get mixed up, each falling in with the other's girl. They are forced to blunder through each other's special tasks, with Boomer conducting a concert and John driving the getaway car on the rescue attempt. John escapes with a valise full of money and the crooks threaten to kill Tyson unless it is returned, which prompts the brothers to collaborate on a rescue mission.

After the villains are defeated and Tyson is saved, everyone realises they are twins. At a double wedding, Barbara and Tammy are unable to tell which brother is which but opt to marry the ones they have hold of.


Given a fresh dub in English, with Jackie Chan speaking his own lines on the voice-track, this 1992 effort has been slightly trimmed to trot out smartly on the coat-tails of his long-delayed English-language breakthrough Rush Hour. (He has been making the odd American film since The Cannonball Run in 1980.) An obvious twist on the 1991 Jean-Claude Van Damme video perennial Double Impact, Twin Dragons is pretty much a ramshackle affair. It blends knockabout comedy with the regulation incredible stuntwork, and tries for a freewheeling, farcical tone that falls flat as often as it soars gracefully.

It is perhaps unfair to judge the movie by the standards even of its genre since it was undertaken as a fund-raiser for the Directors Guild of Hong Kong. Unusually, it pairs directors Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam Ling-Tung (splitting the job between the Boomer and John scenes), while every role in the film (apart from the two female leads) is taken by a director, the ultimate evolution of a casting style John Landis developed in Into the Night. Though Hark and Lam (who can be spotted playing cards just before the final set-piece fight in a garage) get away with their in-joke, the procession of bit parts for astonished waiters, passers-by and hotel functionaries becomes wearying. You suspect even Hong Kong audiences would be hard-pressed to identify all of the wannabe scene-stealers, and few of the distinguished participants show much skill with double-take comedy.

Taken on its own merits, this is very much the Chan mixture in its most unambitious form, with a lot of action but no danger. There are comic skits (Boomer's manic attempt at conducting), chases (with speedboats and cars) and many, many fights, plus rather too much of that overfamiliar mixing-up-the-twins plotting and the psychic-link gambit. Some of the double exposures are ropey, and the ponytail Boomer wears to distinguish him from John doesn't help much. The girls, especially the kittenish Nina Li Chi wriggling in sheath dresses, are great fun, but Teddy Robin Kwan's pigeon-chested bantamweight big-mouth Tyson wins on points as the most obnoxious sidekick in movie history - and since Chan can be his own sidekick here, the most superfluous. As is often the case, Chan is at his most impressive in the tiniest stunts: flicking away each of the tools arrayed on a bench in turn as a villain reaches for weapons and walking over a careening car.


Teddy Robin Kwan
Barry Wong Ping-Yiu
Tsui Hark
Joe Cheung Tung-Cho
Wong Yik
Directors of Photography
Wong Wing-Hang
Arthur Wong Ngok-Tai
Mak Chi-Sin
Art Directors
Bill Lui Chor-Hung
Ray Lam Chan-Fai
Lowell Lo
[Liu Koon-Ting]
©1991 Paragon Films Ltd
Production Company
Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild
Executive Producer
Ng See-Yuen
Production Supervisors
Joe Cheung Tung-Cho
John Keung Dai-Wai
Siu Tak-Sum
Production Manager
Law Sai-Keung
Assistant Directors
Lo Bo-Shan
Catherine Lau Kar-Wai
Kam Shui-Fan
Wan Shiu-Kuen
Kwok Siu-Wai
Costume Designer
Chong Che-Leung
So Chin-Fa
Lam Che-Cheung
Lau Shui-Yin
Stunt Choreographer
Jackie Chan
Yuen Woo-Ping
Ching Siu-Tung
Stephen Tung Wai
Tsui Siu-Ming
Chris Lee Kin-Sang
1992 English language version credits
© 1992 Paragon Films Ltd. Production Company A Golden Harvest presentation
1998 English language version credits
English Adaptation
Rod Dean
Val Kuklowsky
Michael Wandmacher
Phe Loung
[Barrington Pheloung]
Production Companies
Dimension Films presents in association with Distant Horizon and Media Asia Distribution a film by "Hong Kong Directors' Club"
Los Angeles Post-production
Dimension Executives in Charge
Andrew Rona
Ken Park
Voice Casting
Steve Apostolina
Editorial Consultant
Rod Dean
Vision Production, Inc
Jerry Kitz
Tim Simonec
Facilities Director
David Dubow
Scoring Engineer
Dan Wallin
Sound Designer
Kim B. Christensen
Sound Supervisor
Val Kuklowsky
Re-recording Mixers
Gary J. Coppola
Brad Sherman
Unsun Song
Sound Editors
Erick Jolley-Clark
Sam Hinckley
Scott Koue
Voice Director:
Rod Dean
Voice Talent:
Kirk Baily
Bai Ling
Steve Bulen
Dan Lorge'
Steve Cassling
Mary Elizabeth McGynn
Alex Daniels
Gracie Moore
Mary Ellen Dunbar
Bob Pappenbrook
Richard Epcar
Tony Pope
Bridgete Hoffman
Stuart Robinson
Rif Hutton
Barry Stigler
Tom Kramer
Paul St. Peter
Wendee Lee
Kim Thornton
Steve Apostolina
Bruno Frasca
John Dunne
Chris Philp
Gary Ulmer
Joan Giamarco
Pat Cabral
Edward Steidele
John Wilde
Jackie Chan
[Sing Lung]
Boomer/John Ma
Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk
Teddy Robin Kwan
Anthony Chan Yau
hotel staffer
Philip Chan Yan-Kin
hotel manager
Sylvia Chang
[Zhang Aijia]
twins' mother
Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting
Boss Wing
Jacob Cheung Chi-Leung
Joe Cheung Tung-Cho
orchestra member
Chor Yuen
Tammy's father
John Keung Dai-Wai
hotel security
Ringo Lam Ling-Tung
card player at test centre
Liu Chia-Liang
[Lau Ka-Leung]
Guy Lai Ying-Chow
gang leader
Nina Li Chi
Jamie Luk Kim-Ming
Pa Shan
Ng See-Yuen
car mechanic
John Woo
[Ng Yu-Sam]
Eric Tsang Chi-Wai
man on phone
Tsui Hark
card player at test centre
Tsui Siu-Ming
James Wong Jim
twins' father
Che-Kirk Wong Chi-Keung
Crazy Kung
Johnny Wang Lung-Wei
David Wu Dai-Wai
[uncredited on 1998 English language version]
Wu Ma
Lowell Lo
[Liu Koon-Ting]
Wong Jing
Buena Vista International (UK)
8,025 feet
89 minutes 11 seconds
SDDS/Dolby digital
Colour by
Dimension Films re-scored and re-dubbed Twin Dragons circa 1998.
As a fund-raising excercise for the Hong Kong Film Directors'Guild, some 50 local film directors were persuaded to cameo in this film.
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011